Interview with Aaron Kite, author of A Touch of Poison

ISBN 9781927400593 $19.99
eISBN 9781927400609 $4.99
Releases August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014 Five Rivers releases a captivating YA novel from Calgary author, Aaron Kite, A Touch of Poison, winner of the 2012 Watty for Most Popular Fantasy.

The story revolves around Gwenwyn, who is the most miserable princess ever, and for good reason. Merely brushing up against her or touching her exposed skin is enough to cause painful burns, or worse. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s just discovered the singular reason for her existence – to act as the king’s secret assassin, murdering neighboring princes with nothing more than a simple kiss.

Lorina Stephens recently interviewed Aaron Kite about his forthcoming novel, A Touch of Poison.

LS: A Touch of Poison is a beautifully detailed YA novel with unexpected twists and an atypical heroine. What was your inspiration for this story?

AK: The idea originally came from me while reading about these women in Hindu folklore known as the Visha Kanya, or ‘poison girls’. Legend has it that their blood and other bodily fluids were poisonous, and that they offered themselves as concubines in order to assassinate kings and other high-ranking men of power. I started to wonder what it would be like for someone who had to live with that sort of condition, and how lonely a life like that would be.

Originally, I’d thought the whole concept would make a nice short story, but the more I thought about it the better I liked the overall idea. Pretty soon I realized that I had way too much material to stuff into a short story, and opted to make it a full length novel instead.

LS: Were you intentionally looking to create a variation on the Midas story?

AK: Not intentionally, no. The story of Midas was more of a “be careful what you wish for” cautionary tale about greed and unintended consequences, whereas Gwenwyn isn’t given the choice, and must simply cope with the realities of her unusual situation. There are some similarities between the two characters, true, but there’s also some fairly significant differences. Midas embodied greed, while Gwenwyn is more about trying to do the right thing, and attempting to keep hope alive.

LS: Was this a burst of inspiration, or an initial burst followed by endless revision?

AK: Definitely the latter, which is what seems to happen with everything I write. I come up with the initial idea, get all excited about it, and then when I’m about three or four chapters in it becomes more about putting my nose to the millstone and grinding my way to the finish line. 

Once I’d finished there were quite a number of edits that needed to be done, which I’ve always found more difficult than writing the actual story. As it stands I’ve probably read the whole thing beginning to end about thirty times, fixing problems or tweaking this and that. Then again, I suppose that’s why we have these things called “first drafts”.

Still, I’m very glad that I (and several others) put all of that work into polishing it up. When all is said and done, I’m quite happy with how this story turned out.

LS: The novel was originally published on Wattpad, and went on to win the 2012 Watty for Most Popular Fantasy. Tell us about that process and the award.

AK: Well, for anyone not familiar with it, Wattpad is kind of like a cross between a social media site and a library, where anyone with an account can make their stories available for other people to read. I started uploading the first chapters of [A Touch of Poison] in the spring of 2012, and around the 3rd or 4th chapter it really started to grab the attention of the Wattpad community. 

Once that happened, the story started getting thousands upon thousands of reads, propelling it into the #1 spot in the fantasy category for pretty much most of the summer. Then, a few people started leaving comments or messages asking if I was planning on entering the story in the Watty awards.

I did a little checking, and discovered that the only requirements to enter your story was that it had to be a completed story, and had to have been written between January and November of that calendar year. So, figuring I had a shot at winning, I finished writing the first draft, entered it in the fantasy category and crossed my fingers.

There’s a lengthy voting period, which allows the Wattpad community the opportunity to read as many of the books as possible. In the end, readers vote for their favorite story in the genre that most interests them, and the votes are counted once the contest deadline has passed. My story ended up getting the most votes, and I won the award for ‘Most Popular Fantasy’ for 2012. Not only was there a cash prize, but Wattpad featured the winning stories on their site, which in turn allowed the story to be discovered by even more people. Right now the total number of reads for that particular story is almost 4.5 million, which still boggles my mind.

LS: Will we hear again from Gwenwyn, the heroine, soon?

AK: We haven’t seen the last of her, that’s for sure. “Are you writing a sequel to A Touch of Poison?” is the one question I’m asked the most from people who are fans of the story. I hadn’t been planning on writing a sequel originally, but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to make sense. So yes, you’ll definitely be hearing from Gwenwyn again. Soon, I hope.

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